Inhalers Types and Uses

There’s currently no cure for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The main aim of treatment is to relieve the symptoms as much as possible and slow down its progression.There are a number of Inhalers available and are divided into two groups Relievers and Preventers. 

The blue inhalers (Relievers)

blue inhalerThe blue inhaler is also known as the reliever inhaler and is for immediate rescue when you are experiencing symptoms, such as chest tightness or shortness of breath.

It contains a short acting bronchodilator known as salbutamol; which quickly opens the airways during an asthma attack. The drug acts to relax the muscles around the airways, allowing them to open up and make it easier to breathe for instant relief of symptoms.

Everyone with asthma should have a blue inhaler as it’s needed to treat asthma attacks. Ensure it is kept with you at all times and is easily accessible, particularly if you are prone to attacks.

The brown inhalers (Preventers)

brown inhalerThe brown inhaler is used to help manage symptoms and help prevent further attacks. In contrast to the blue inhaler, this is NOT a rescue medicine.

There are also red, purple, green and other colours of inhalers some of which contain reliever or preventer medicines, either in combination or as single preparation. If not sure what an inhaler is for, or whether it is being used correctly, consult a doctor or specialist nurse.

Brown inhalers contain a low dose of steroids that help reduce the sensitivity of airways; and used regularly should decrease the likelihood of attacks by building up resistance to triggers. The effects of the medication develop gradually over time and so brown inhalers need to be used twice a day, usually in the morning and evening, even when you are feeling fine.

Symptoms should slowly decrease but can take up to two weeks to work, therefore it’s important to keep taking your brown inhaler even you don’t see improvement in the first couple of days.

The initial level of medication in your brown inhaler will be decided by your GP or asthma nurse to control your symptoms. This may need to be increased if your asthma isn’t being appropriately managed but ultimately the level will be reduced to the lowest possible dose.

The important difference

The key message is that the blue inhaler is used for immediate relief, while the brown inhaler is used to reduce symptoms and prevent further attacks. Remember when symptoms present themselves or in the event of an asthma attack to use the blue inhaler.

If you have any worries or concerns about your asthma treatment, don’t hesitate to contact your GP or asthma nurse for support.

Chart of Inhalers Relievers and Preventers

About This Site

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Bolton Pulmonary Fibrosis Support Group was formed in February 2018 at the request of the Royal Bolton Hospital Interstitial Lung Disease Team and Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis the National Charity for people diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Since 2013 over 60 support groups like ours have sprung up around the UK.

The aim of the group is to provide; support and information for people diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, along with their family, friends and carers in an environment where people can learn about their condition, .A place where they can share their thoughts, fears and feelings with other with the same condition..  A place of mutual understanding, care, support and learning,. to facilitate a better quality of life.


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